Bob Dylan: I stayed in singer's former Scottish Highlands holiday home - and it's not what you might expect

“There it is, Bob Dylan’s piano” is not something I’d ever thought I’d hear and definitely not anything Mrs Milne, my former piano teacher, would have expected of menote-0.

Since I often don’t know why I went into the kitchen, it was a stretch to think I’d remember anything from my years of piano lessons as a teen, much to the dismay of, well me, mainly.

I found myself sitting plonking the keys of the baby grand piano in the singer/songwriter’s former Highland home on a cold March night. Bought by distillers Angus Dundee in late 2023 for over £4 million, Aultmore House, which, confusingly is also a whisky, is located near Nethy Bridge. The property has 16 bedrooms and sits in 24 acres of grounds that include a folly, kitchen garden – not dissimilar, if much smaller, to Andrew Fairlie’s secret garden – and views across to the Cairngorms.

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I was there as part of a group trip to find out more about Angus Dundee and undertake a tour of Tomintoul. I don’t think it’s unfair to say the distiller is one of the lesser known names in Scotland, as they were and are mainly concerned with creating spirits for others. But you may know them from Tomintoul and Glencadam, the former of which is known as the ‘gentle dram’.

Bob Dylan's former Highland home. Picture: Rosalind ErskineBob Dylan's former Highland home. Picture: Rosalind Erskine
Bob Dylan's former Highland home. Picture: Rosalind Erskine

Aultmore was built in 1911 as a holiday home for businessman Archibald Merrilees, the son of a Scottish merchant who built Russia’s first department store. The property was later used as a World War Two convalescent hospital and a finishing school owned by a New Zealand-born spy who survived imprisonment in Colditz. It also featured in BBC Scotland drama Monarch of the Glen. Now it’s set to be a base for Angus Dundee’s private clients and staff training.

I’m not sure what any of us expected when the big front door was opened on our arrival. Tweed, antlers, glitz, glam? Answer – none of the above.

It’s grand, but comfortable, with a tiled entrance hall, long, carpeted hallways, and an elegant staircase. The lounge area has a squidgy sofas, a roaring fire and the dining room, with its long table, is more country home that stately mansion – in the best possible way.

Upstairs, the bedrooms are mainly painted cream with period furniture and more of the amazing views. Angus Dundee is still working out what to do with some rooms. The grounds are in great condition, including the kitchen garden. While Aultmore House won’t be available to rent by the public, cottages in the estate are up for lease, making this an ideal spot for events such as Spirit of Speyside.

The grand piano inside Bob Dylan's former Highland home. Picture: Rosalind ErskineThe grand piano inside Bob Dylan's former Highland home. Picture: Rosalind Erskine
The grand piano inside Bob Dylan's former Highland home. Picture: Rosalind Erskine

As for this whiskies which you’ll find dotted about the house like vases of flowers? The Tomiltoul 16 perfectly encapsulates the gentle dram tagline – a sweet, fresh whisky that isn’t too punchy – and is something special.

Dylan is famously said to have found inspiration in Scotland, but now a new chapter has started for Aultmore house. As markets increasingly visit Scotland to do business in the industry, this former celebrity family holiday home will begin to play its part. Let’s hope someone visits soon who can do the piano justice.



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